Subject to Inquiry

THE LATEST ON GOVERNMENT INQUIRIES AND ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

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On May 21, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA)—an organization comprised of 67 securities regulators within the United States (all fifty states as well as districts and territories), Canada, and Mexico—released a model cybersecurity rule package governing state-registered investment advisors’ cybersecurity and privacy practices.  The model rule package, which would need to be adopted by an individual state so as to become law in that jurisdiction, provides a structure for how state-registered investment advisers…
This week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order rescinding its Notice of Alleged Violation (“NAV”) Policy. The NAV Policy was put in place by a 2009 order and authorized FERC’s Office of Enforcement Staff (“OE staff”) to ask the FERC Secretary to issue a public NAV at the stage of the investigation after the subject has had a chance to respond to OE staff’s preliminary findings. This usually happened at about the…
On April 30, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a Securities and Exchange Commission order imposing sanctions. The court held that an investment advisory firm and its owners did not violate Section 207 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1930, 15 U.S.C. § 80b-7, by negligently omitting material facts from the firm’s Form ADV. (See Robare Group, Ltd., et al. v. SEC, No. 16-1453.) In September 2014, SEC Enforcement charged…
Enforcement actions sanctioning firms and, in a few cases, individuals for failing to investigate and report suspicious activity have been significantly on the rise. SEC, FinCEN, FINRA, and others have been active in this area, particularly with regard to trading at, by, or through the financial institution.  One critical component of a financial institution’s ability to maintain a robust anti-money laundering (“AML”) program and comply with its suspicious activity reporting (“SAR”) obligations is to ensure…
On April 16, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued a Risk Alert highlighting Regulation S-P compliance deficiencies and issues it found in recent examinations of broker-dealers and investment advisers. Regulation S-P is the primary SEC rule detailing the safeguards these firms must take to protect customer privacy. The Risk Alert provides an important reminder for firms to assess their supervisory and compliance programs related to Regulation S-P and make any necessary…
On April 15, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities (the “Bureau”) issued a rule proposal to establish a uniform fiduciary duty standard applicable to investment advisers, brokers-dealers and their registered representatives and agents.  Specifically, the proposed rule (N.J.A.C. 13:47A-6.4), which could take effect as early as the end of the year, will require all investment professionals registered with the Bureau to provide investment advice, recommend investment strategies, open or transfer assets to any type of…
As recognized by new guidance from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the departure of a registered representative often prompts customer questions about the departing representative and the continued servicing of a customer’s account. In light of the continued frequency of movement of registered representatives from, or among, member firms, FINRA issued guidance on April 5, 2019, regarding what information it expects member firms to communicate to customers upon the departure of a registered representative.…
On March 12, 2019, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced federal criminal charges in “Operation Varsity Blues,” the largest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice. Fifty people have been charged for their involvement in what prosecutors describe as a nationwide conspiracy to get the children of wealthy parents into elite colleges around the country. As alleged, wealthy parents paid tens of thousands of dollars to facilitate…
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on March 1, 2019, an extension of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for qualifying individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, and Nicaragua. DHS also announced a nine-month automatic extension of these TPS beneficiaries’ Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), allowing beneficiaries to work in the United States until January 2, 2020. The Department took this action to ensure its continued compliance with the preliminary injunction order of the U.S. District…